Step by Step - His Way by Steve Keeler
Scripture Jeremiah 29:11
If you’ve been to a bookstore in the past fifteen years you’ve noticed the “…for Dummies” series of books out there. There are “…for Dummies” books about almost everything: “Quilting for Dummies,” “Hang Gliding for Dummies,” “Nuclear Physics for Dummies.”
Today we are going to take a look at, “Life for Dummies” because, while we may be quite smart, I think we would all have to admit that we at times have a need for some assistance; especially when we hit roadblocks in life.
Have you ever experienced a roadblock in your life? I’m not talking about the kind where the police are looking for drunks. I’m talking about when you have a plan, you think it’s a good plan, if you’re a believer you may think it’s the path God wants you to take, and all of a sudden… bam, the road is closed and you can’t figure out why.
You thought this was a good thing – you thought this was a God thing. Then suddenly there’s nowhere to go, “Now what?” Life can be confusing at times, can’t it?
An earth science teacher was lecturing on map reading. After explaining about latitude, longitude, degrees and minutes, the teacher asked, “Suppose I asked you to meet me for lunch at 23 degrees, 4 minutes north latitude and 45 degrees, 15 minutes east longitude... what would happen?”
After a confused silence, a student volunteered, “I guess you’d be eating by yourself.”
Roadblocks are a fact of life. Sometimes roadblocks cause us to adjust course, sometimes we need to stop and go back, and at times we simply need to plow on through.
The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.
I’m so thankful that God cares enough about me to direct my steps. Now, I don’t think that means that I’m a puppet with God pulling all my strings; but I do think that God is interested in what I do and where I go, and so he keeps a close watch on me.
When our children left home for the first time, you know, the first day of first grade, did you just say “see ya later, have a good day”?
I don’t think so, most of the time that day involves some tears and most often a personal ride to school.
Some parents even sneak around and park in the parking lot just to get a glimpse of their children at recess to make sure all is ok. That way if any thing goes wrong you’re right there for them.
That’s the image I get here of the LORD, He directs our steps. He is intimately interested in our lives, and He’s as involved in our lives as we’ll allow. And sometimes God uses roadblocks to direct our steps.
The roadblocks I’m talking about are the things which happen in life, which give us reason to hit the pause button.
Roadblocks can manifest themselves in many ways. Like job openings in other places or a job opportunity lost or a layoff, a medical condition popping up, plans to sell a house that fall through, unexpected, unpayable bills, etc.
Anything in life that you just didn’t plan for and couldn’t anticipate, I would call that a roadblock. And as I said before, they happen to everyone.
So what do you do when they occur? I want to share with you some wisdom from God’s bestselling book: Life for Dummies, A.K.A., the Bible.
God is a God that won’t leave you hanging. God might stop us if we are doing something bad. God might stop us if we’re doing something good, if it’s not the right time or we’re not going about it the right way. God might even be testing us to see if we really will do what He asks us to do.
You know, sometimes, roadblocks come from our adversary, Satan, trying to stop us from doing what God wants us to do.
So, How to Handle Life’s Roadblocks Biblically:
Step 1: Check your motive.
I think this is the very first thing we must do. If there’s a roadblock in my life, it’s there for a reason.
Nothing happens apart from God’s knowledge, He may not be the cause, He knows. Psalms 32:8
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
And it’s so easy for us to ask God to bless what we want to do without ever consulting what He wants us to do. If we are truly Christ followers, we must never forget, we are His bond slaves and will be obedient to His will.
Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This slave thing doesn’t sit well with unbelievers friends and you know what, it doesn’t sit well with some of us either. With all our independence, this is a hard thing to except.
When we think about someone being a slave, we think about the bondage and brutality that is the way of life for slaves in our history.
Here are a couple of things that Paul’s 1st century audience would have understood when he identified himself as a bond slave.
In the New Testament era, because slaves were often captives of war, many were very well educated and trained.
At times they were more educated than their masters. Education of slaves was encouraged and some slaves held positions like physician, accountants, tutors, household managers, etc.
Some people sold themselves into slavery as actually a way to climb the socioeconomic ladder. A slave owner was responsible to provide food and shelter for the slave – things that some weren’t able to provide for themselves at the time.
Often, slaves occupied rooms within the master’s house – they lived with the family.
When we ask Christ to be our director in life we are submitting our will to His. He becomes our gracious benefactor. We don’t give up our talents – we begin to use them for our master.
Our freedom isn’t taken from us, we give it freely in order to live a Kingdom Life; we aren’t forced to in slave quarters outside, we look forward to actually living with the Master.
I wonder how many times a day a parent or teacher hears the words, “You’re not going to tell me what to do!”
Sometimes God blocks our path just because, like children, we’ve gone our own way and He needs us to get back in line.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit...”
Even prophets run into roadblocks. Jonah met a roadblock because of his selfishness. He was God’s spokesman, and God instructed Jonah to go and preach to the people who lived in a town called Nineveh. But instead Jonah went down to the docks and found a ship getting ready to sail.
He had an open door. Understand that ships setting sail didn’t happen every day. It wasn’t like going to an airport today and “finding” an airplane getting ready to take off in the next hour or two. Ships entering and exiting ports weren’t that common but here was one just getting ready to leave, so Jonah jumped on board.
Jonah’s roadblock came once the ship had sailed. Jonah was thrown overboard where he was swallowed by a giant fish and then, God redirected his steps to Nineveh.
Do you think that open door was God’s will? No. Satan can open doors too, and if you’re running from God he’ll personally hold every door open until you are so far away you don’t think you can ever find your way back home.
So the first thing we should do when we encounter a roadblock is to examine our motives. Perhaps it’s God trying earnestly to get our attention.
Step 2: Check your relationship with God.
Let’s understand something; God has a great interest in His children but not every person is His child. Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Now let’s use a little simple logic here as well. If those who are led by the Spirit of God are His children, then logically it makes sense that those who aren’t led by the Spirit of God aren’t His children.
God isn’t likely to discipline those who aren’t his children. I don’t. I would only direct another person’s child if that child is endangering him or herself or others, or when the parents give me permission, or when nobody’s looking!
Sometimes roadblocks are God’s way of saying, “It’s been a while and you and I need to talk.” These roadblocks get our attention and help us refocus on Him or get ready for new instructions.
The truth is: God speaks but sometimes we refuse to listen. When you experience roadblocks in your life it’s not a time to give up; it’s a time to re-think your path. Is my heart in the right place? Have I asked for God’s guidance? Have I stopped to listen?
So often we presume that we are doing God’s will even though we’ve never asked Him what He wants from us. And the Bible tells us 2 Chronicles 26:5
...as long as he sought the LORD, God prospered him.
God speaks to us in various ways:
Via His Word - The Bible (Our Only Foundation)
Via His Spokesperson (Prophets or Inspired People)
Via Wise Counsel (Your Pastor or Elders)
Via Circumstance (Roadblocks and Open Doors)
Via Inner Voice (Devine Communication)
Via Physically at Times (Rare and only if you can except it)
Sometimes we hit roadblocks because we aren’t as tuned in to God’s voice as we should be. I’ve noticed something when the weather is very clear; at night when there is less interference you can get radio stations from very far away. Which is a good thing because there aren’t any radio stations to get from near away.
If things are just right, I sometimes can get WTRM in Winchester; WTRM is a FM southern Gospel station I love but can get most of the time but when I’m out and things are just right, I try to get it tuned in to hear some of that wonder music about our Lord. The key is: I’ve got to be listening close!
The fact of the matter is WTRM broadcasts seven days a week, 365 days a year. They are always communicating, but I’m not always listening. So it is with God; He’s always wants to talk with me… but I’m not always listening.
Step 3: Check your timing.
One time Paul wanted to take a mission trip to Asia but he hit a roadblock. So he set his course for another town that needed to hear about Jesus, but again he experienced a roadblock. Finally on his third try he had success – he was certain of God’s direction.
They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.
A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, immediately he headed for Macedonia, concluding that God had called him to preach the gospel to them.
Was Paul being selfish trying to go to Asia? No! Was Paul wrong for wanting to tell others about Jesus when he wanted to go to another country? Certainly not! But the timing to go to those places just wasn’t right as far as God was concerned – and really He’s the only one that matters.
Timing is really important and God’s is always perfect and His timing is not our timing. You might want to do something that would bring God glory; you might have a great plan to accomplish something that would make God proud but a roadblock gets in the way.
Maybe God is saying, “Wait just a second, I have a better plan.” Remember today’s verse: Proverbs 16:9
The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.
We can get into trouble when we think we know more about where we need to go than God does or we try to help God out because obviously, He missed something.
I think it’s cool that when these roadblocks in Paul’s life occurred he didn’t get mad at God; he didn’t fuss and whine about not getting to do what he wanted. He simply took a look at where he was and redirected.
Step 4: Don’t take roadblocks personally.
Paul and Barnabas were great friends. They worked together going on the first mission trip to tell others about Jesus.
While they were planning mission trip number two they had a disagreement over taking Barnabas’ cousin, Mark, along. Mark had accompanied them on their first missionary journey but had jumped ship when the going got tough.
Barnabas said “Yes, let’s take him; he’s grown from the experience.” Paul said, “The stakes are too high and it’s too risky.” No compromise was made.
And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.
I don’t like sharp disagreements and I’m sure Paul and Barnabas didn’t either, but they had one and instead of one mission team going out, two went out. Sometimes a roadblock occurs so God can produce something better in our lives.
Step 5: When you’re sure, don’t let anything stop you.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
There’s that “serve” word again. When Paul was sure about God’s will for him, he became zealous for this cause. Nothing was going to stop him, not being stoned, beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned… nothing. He was going to serve or die trying. I love that!
You look at the situation and you decide that the roadblock isn’t because you’re thinking of your needs, your relationship with the Lord is good; you don’t feel God leading you any other way, then you go for it.
I believe that God loves us enough to stop us if we’re really missing the mark. Until He does, go for it!
If my sons wanted to help me wash the car (which is a very good thing) I would make sure they had the right equipment to accomplish the task. I wouldn’t leave them to their own ideas. They might think steel wool works better than a sponge. That would be disastrous to the project, not to mention my car. The point is that God equips us to do the tasks He’s designed.
Step 6: Trust God.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
So often people get upset thinking the roadblocks in our lives mean we’re way off course. Honestly, they might. But sometimes God using them to challenges us; He wants to see what we’re made of and wants to see the depth of our trust.
I honestly believe that because of His amazing yet real Grace, even when I make mistakes He’s able to make everything right.
Like I said, God might be seeing if you really trust Him.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Isn’t that what we all want – clear direction. We may not appreciate or even like the roadblocks but God uses them to guide us.
They’re big enough to get our attention and they’re unavoidable. So when you experience one in your life remember:
Check your motive, check your relationship, check your timing, don’t take it personally, don’t let anything stop you, and ultimately trust God.